Don’t Scratch that Itch

For a variety of reasons, I’ve experienced intense itching throughout the course of my chronic illnesses. Before my Hashimoto’s thyroiditis was well-regulated, I suffered from tight, dry skin. Consequently, I developed itchy skin.

Once you’ve developed itchiness, it becomes all but impossible to not scratch your skin. It’s essential not to do so, however. Repeated scratching can cause your skin to tear. This leaves you vulnerable to developing an infection.

Although it’s not a commonly recognized symptom, MS has periodically induced intense itchiness. Multiple times, I’ve had to distract myself (both literally and figuratively) to keep myself from repeated scratching.

Because my immune system is so dysfunctional, even minor cuts, scrapes, and abrasions always take an extended period of time to heal. This increases the chance of scar development.

By far, the most intense itching that I’ve ever experienced was due to tapering off of high doses of prednisone. I wanted to unzip my skin as that noxious corticosteroid finally was making its way out of my system.

Of course, there’s also a powerful psychological component to our behavioural responses to itching. Scratching an itch only serves to intensify our perception of discomfort, as opposed to alleviating it.

Finding an activity that is incompatible with scratching is an effective strategy when we encounter intense itching. Furthermore, I’ve noticed that hormonal changes associated with perimenopause have periodically caused my skin to feel intensely itchy. As tempting as it might be, please don’t scratch that itch!

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